Young children

Looking Beyond Young Motherhood

I’ll be 35 this October. 

Still young. But, not really. Because ever since I had my last baby, nearly 3 1/2 years ago, I’ve felt like an 80 year old. 

But thats not what prompted me to write this blog post.

What prompted me was when I considered other women my age and how I’m the “weird one”.

There are women all around me that are just “starting out”. Women that waited until their thirties to tie the knot and rock the cradle.

And, the fact that by the time their oldest child is ready for their ABC’s and 123’s, my oldest will be graduating high school.

I see first and second baby announcements coming from women in their mid-thirties, like me. 

Our second baby. And the days of toddlers climbing on everything and feeling “big enough”.  

Our second baby. And the days of toddlers climbing on everything and feeling “big enough”.  

 

I see blog posts of forty year olds with just toddlers and such dark circles under their eyes, you’d thought they’d been in an MMA fight.  

 

Its surreal to think back at my early days of motherhood.  

 

Twelve years ago, on March 2nd, I recall taking my first pregnancy test ever and seeing two HOT pink lines. Those lines were blinding as they nearly popped thru the testing window.  

 

Pregnant.  

 

Completely overjoyed.  

 

Had no earthly clue what being a mother meant. 

My oldest. The days when it was just he and I (a very pregnant me) and there was room enough to ride his trike indoors.  

My oldest. The days when it was just he and I (a very pregnant me) and there was room enough to ride his trike indoors.  

I thought it similar to the job I did everyday. Taking care of other children, other women had birthed. The mad, intense love I had for these children was unlike anything I could describe for someone not related to me.

I was so off on that love thing, by the way. The second I heard my son gasp for air, the love I thought I had for children seemed like a joke compared to this love I had for my own son.

The years just continued on with a miscarriage nine months after my sons birth, then, six months later, another pregnancy: his little brother. 

The pregnancies and nursing years kept multiplying. I had 10 straight years of no breaks. None at all.

And those years all blurred on.

I always recall, on my outings with the “hands full” of children, those commenters of “You don’t look old enough to have (3,4, or 5) kids.”

Our five. Over three years ago. All so little.  

Our five. Over three years ago. All so little.  

This happened for my entire early motherhood years. 

 

While my peers were out solidifying careers and dating around, I was in the thick of chasing four, five and under. 

 

I never considered myself deprived.  

 

In fact, I somewhat pitied the ones my age that just lived to please themselves. Sure, their instagrams looked cool, and I would lie if I didn’t say I wasn’t a tad envious of their “freedom”. 

 

Here I was, sacrificing. And sacrificing hard, at that. 

 

Every second, of every day, some little face needed me.  

 

At age 29, I was homeschooling a kindergartener, chasing his very active little brother, keeping little sister out of the dishwasher while I loaded it, and nursing a colicky baby sister all night long. 

 

The days of being a 29 year old. Filled with the joys of four children, five and under.  

The days of being a 29 year old. Filled with the joys of four children, five and under.  

And the years rolled on. Faster and faster. 

 

And when I consider that this year I’ll be celebrating thirteen years of marriage and 12 years of motherhood, when other 35 year olds are just beginning, I wonder: “Have I really missed out?” 

 

If you’re reading this and share a similar story as mine, “Do you feel as though you’ve ‘missed out’?”  

 

I have to answer emphatically, “No....”

Our youngest baby reminds me that, as the fifth baby, all you need is wipes, dipes, and love. 

Our youngest baby reminds me that, as the fifth baby, all you need is wipes, dipes, and love. 

 

”...not at all.” 

 

I may be a grandmother in my forties (maybe). I may still look fresh out of college some days, but I would never ever regret beginning my family as a young, young graduated-college-in-the-nick-of-time-twenty-two-year-old. 

 

College. So incredibly fun, my heart could only handle three years of it. Because I got married. And completed my undergrad just a mere eight weeks before my first was born.  

College. So incredibly fun, my heart could only handle three years of it. Because I got married. And completed my undergrad just a mere eight weeks before my first was born.  

Because, God has taught me so much in the past twelve/thirteen years. More than I could’ve ever hoped to have learned from a bunch of little people. 

 

My thumb-sucker, middle child. A time when juggling three, was truly juggling.  

My thumb-sucker, middle child. A time when juggling three, was truly juggling.  

And as my focus shifts from keeping little hands and feet safe to mentoring and molding young men and women, I will always cherish the days when both I and my children were young and naive.  

 

The days of baby gates and all-nighters that were just a seemless transition from the late nights in my college dorm room. When 2am was just a number, and we didn’t feel the consequences.  

 

As I push and struggle to gain what was drained from me all of those sweet years, I am reminded that motherhood is just a small extension of the love of Christ. That sacrificial, gut-wrenching, ultra-intense/doesn’t-make-sense kind of love.

 

Motherhood is a gift no matter what age you choose to embrace it. But, I’d like to think that those “weird ones” of us that got that  several year headstart; we’re that much better because of it. 💗

 

Our fourth. And a time when I was invincible. Or so I thought. Motherhood was adorable and so squishy.  

Our fourth. And a time when I was invincible. Or so I thought. Motherhood was adorable and so squishy.  

Date your child(ren)

In today's fast-paced world, there are countless distractions, spontaneous and scheduled activities, and, of course, technological devices that rob all of us from giving undivided attention. Many of these said distractions are experienced with or in the presence of our children leaving them with few meaningful moments with their parents. Its not uncommon now for many families to spend an entire series of hours in the same room but without any real communication or interaction. Young children today will, unfortunately, grow up remembering the face of their parent consumed with the face of a screen.

It's time to date your child(ren).

Think back to your dating/courtship years? You were like a little sponge and wanting to learn all you could about this incredible person. You asked questions, you listened to their responses, you surprised them with little trinkets or tokens of your affection and you couldn't wait to spend time with them. You would count down the minutes until their next phone call. You would do whatever you could to keep the peace and make that person happy. You put your best foot forward and really worked at keeping the relationship nourished and growing.

I once read that you should look at your child and picture them holding a sign that says I don't know that you love me and parent accordingly. How can you be deliberate about showing your child you love them through quality time?

discover your child's love language

If you have really young children, such as infants or toddlers, this one might be a little tough to decipher, but children preschool age and up should give you solid clues about how they love to be loved. For instance, my second oldest son loves to verbally encourage and he loves to help (as long as it's not being the dust pan holder guy for the "sweeper" person) so naturally, he loves to receive words of encouragement and help for those tasks that overwhelm him. Knowing your child's love language is so important in the quest to love your child more fully because when you speak it, its like magic, and you will appreciate the connection it brings. If you need help with finding your childs love language go here: www.5lovelanguages.com

say "I love you" [a lot]

This one is self-explanatory but cannot be overemphasized. Say it when you wake up in the morning, say it after any discipline/correction, say it 3,729 times a day and say it with or without hugs and kisses and tickles. No matter how or when you say it, say it with all your heart....not in passing....not out of habit, but mean it.

do something they enjoy

You may not particularly enjoy the activity, but the smile and joy you will encounter on your child's face will be completely worth it.

listen

Take a segment of time each day, put down the phone, and go to your child and just let them spill their guts about whatever they choose.  Try not to say much at all during this time, just enjoy wherever the child leads the conversation. Laugh, smile, ask them questions, discuss, enjoy.:)

schedule a one-on-one activity once or twice a month

Ask your child what he or she would like to do and put it on the calendar. In addition, if possible, take a child on an errand or two with you throughout the week. Rotate between children if you have more than one and get special time with each child while accomplishing important tasks.

My goal in dating my children is that they will make countless memories with me, that they will never doubt my love for them, and that during the troublesome growing up times they will come to me and trust me as their confidant, their "go-to". And my biggest hope is that my love will mimic the love that God has for us all. Gods ears are always listening, His arms are always open, His love is always pointing towards His children. God whispers "I love you" in His Word as we read His Story, He is never too busy for us, and absolutely nothing we throw at Him is too much. I never regret the time I spend with Him. I only regret the time I didn't or don't. I hope to say someday that I used the time I had with my children very wisely because they grow up too quickly to not make the most of every moment.

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-Alicia